Recently I was discussing spirituality with some friends. One of them recently became a Christian. She had a profound experience when she was baptized that transformed her life.
She stayed with the church, not because she believes everything they teach, but because it was there that she had that transformative experience. Our discussion was about how people of all faiths can have that experience of transformation. My friend described her experience in this way, “it felt like it was the first time in my life that I let love in.” It was interesting that she said, “…I let love in…” rather than stating that she found love. I believe love is always present and it is a matter of us recognizing it and more importantly, letting it in. For so many of us, that is the difficult part. We don’t allow ourselves to be loved, either by those who are closest to us, or by that mysterious divine force.
The Inner Smile meditation is often taught as a stress management technique or for physical healing. However, with modification, it can also be a valuable method of getting in touch with the love that surrounds us all the time. As with all meditation techniques, it is important to keep practicing. In the beginning it may be a challenging meditation for those who have difficulty with letting love in.
The Inner Smile Meditation
Close your eyes and imagine that someone you love is sitting in front of you, smiling at you. It should be a person whose love, or at least genuine affection, you can easily feel. As they are sitting there, smiling at you, think of another person, and imagine them sitting there, smiling at you. Continue adding people until everyone you know, whose friendship or love you can feel, is sitting in front of you, smiling with genuine warmth. Feel their warmth, friendship, and love. If you are a religious person, you can also add spiritual figures, whose love you feel or believe in. If you believe in God, of course include God. If it feels right, you can even add hosts of angels or bodhisattvas or any celestial beings that have meaning for you.
Now, just bask in the warmth of all of those smiles. Really feel all of that love pouring toward you, and begin to reflect it back. Feel yourself smiling with all of that friendliness and love. Then just allow your awareness to flow through your body, smiling at every part of your body. Keep smiling until you can feel the cells in your body dancing alive. Any time you lose the feeling, bring back all of those faces, smiling at you, and feel their warmth. Then you can continue to smile into your own being. When you feel complete, let the image fade and notice how you are feeling for a short while. Then slowly open your eyes and move gently into your daily activities.